The heroine in White Roses (which releases through Heartsong Presents this month) owns a fictional floral shop in Romance and the hero is a pastor in Rose Bud. I used a real church in Rose Bud as a model. When the Heartsong Presents cover artists asked me for detailed information and pictures for the cover, I realized I hadn’t taken any of the church. I described it to her and with fictional liberty added a few stained-glass windows. I was amazed at how much the cover looks like the real church.
Postal relief, June Sullivan at the Romance Post Office gave me insight and info into the daily workings. I learned how the mail is sorted by route and some postal lingo for the second book. Postmaster Angie Davis gave me the scoop on the weddings. They have three or four weddings a year on Valentine’s Day at the post office. Couples exchange vows in the lobby or outside the office. Someone carved a heart in the parking lot declaring it the Heart of Romance.
Next stop: The Romance Waterfalls. Owner James (Buck) Weatherly took us on an impromptu tour of his privately owned property, he and his wife open to the public for weddings and events. We walked underneath a wisteria-draped archway into a landscaped garden with a heart-shaped flower bed, numerous blossoms and flowering bushes. A wooden walkway leads down to the waterfalls, surrounded by jutting rock/steps with railing all the way down. We could hear the waterfall long before we got there.
Mr. Weatherly built two gazebos and balconies overlooking the waterfalls. Couples get married on the largest balcony and the Weatherly’s open their home for receptions and family reunions. I couldn’t help but include the waterfalls in all three books of my series and the owners agreed to let me have my book launch party there.
Teaser: a realization of true love, a proposal, and a wedding take place at the waterfall in my series.
Last stop: The Rambler Cafe’ in Rose Bud, famous for their steaks. Owner Cheri Limon gave me permission to use her restaurant in a pivotal scene. The rustic restaurant’s plank walls, shelves above each window lined with plants, antique books, and plates was the perfect setting for my hero/pastor to interview a potential associate pastor. Besides hometown friendliness, they have great food and the pie—oh, the pie. Turtle, coconut, pecan, the list goes on.
I’ve made four visits to the Romance/Rose Bud area and learned something new each time. The second book, White Doves is set at the post office in Romance, with a Postmaster heroine and mail carrier hero. The third book, White Pearls is set at a Rose Bud historical Victorian plantation with slave quarters upstairs as a haunting reminder of our racially divided past.
The series has been fun to write and I’ve enjoyed meeting the local people while researching the rich detail and flavor of the area.